Opinion: The fine print of Kony 2012

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber is a sophomore English major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

I am one of the millions of people who have watched the Kony 2012 video. I’ll even admit I shared the link to it on Facebook. But as I researched Invisible Children further, I began to grow somewhat skeptical and wondered about the true intentions of those involved in Kony 2012, and there are a few things that just don’t add up.

Let’s address these things before you buy that $30 action kit. First and foremost, the idea that putting one man to justice at any cost will stop an entire military group is naïve. Just as al-Qaeda has not disappeared in the months following Osama bin Laden’s assassination, the LRA will not simply crumble if Kony is found and brought to justice.

Ugandan blogger Rosebell Kagumire claims that the video does not portray Uganda as it currently is, but as it was five or six years ago, and “the situation has improved in Northern Uganda and that it’s about conflict recovery right now.”

There have also been concerns about Invisible Children’s efforts to get the U.S. military involved with finding Kony, especially when many Ugandans, including Kagumire, claim that Kony is no longer in Uganda and might even be dead.

Adam Branch, senior research fellow at Uganda’s Makerere Institute of Social Research, believes Invisible Children to be “an excuse that the U.S. government has gladly adopted in order to help justify the expansion of their military presence in central Africa. Invisible Children are ‘useful idiots,’ being used by those in the U.S. government who seek to militarize Africa, to send more and more weapons and military aid, and to build the power of military rulers who are U.S. allies.”

Perhaps the U.S. military will find Kony, but that’s not their only objective, and the discovery of enough oil for 800 million barrels in 2009 seems like more of an incentive to occupy Uganda. Finally, Kony 2012 is not for those who truly want to make a difference in helping African civilians who have been impacted by the LRA. It’s more for those who want to be trendy, and whose involvement ends after spreading the word through social media.

Jedidiah Jenkins, the Invisible Children’s director of ideology, said 37 percent of Invisible Children’s budget goes directly to central African-related programs, about 20 percent goes to salaries and overhead, and the remaining 43 percent goes to its awareness programs.

“But aside from that,” he says, “The truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization.”

My point is this: Buying an awareness bracelet or changing your Facebook profile picture will do nothing for the victims of the LRA. The U.S. military presence in Uganda is not there for the victims of the LRA. If you really want to act and make a difference, find a charity organization dedicated entirely to aid in Africa with no ulterior motives.